Chloe Aurard’s unassisted goal at 1:44 of overtime lifted France to a 3-2 upset win over Germany on Monday. It’s the first French victory in Women’s Worlds history.
Les Bleues are bound for relegation regardless, but this was an important statement, both for pride and for the future of the French program.
Looking forward to the ninth-place game versus either Sweden or Japan, French coach Gregory Tarle said: "We lost three very tight games, but we got good chances in every game. I think we've learned a lot and improved game after game. Now we have two days for recovery, and we'll be ready for the next game."
It was Germany’s first loss in Espoo. However, since the Germans have six points, they can still claim first place in Group B if they defeat the Czechs, who have nine points, in regulation time in Tuesday’s group finale.
At the last elite-level IIHF tournament, the 2019 World Juniors, “Sweet Caroline” emerged as the beloved theme song of Kazakhstan in Victoria. Now, we’re not saying the French women have been channeling Neil Diamond in their dressing room, but they did give goalie Caroline Lambert her first start of these Women’s Worlds in lieu of number one netminder Caroline Baldin. It paid off.
Lambert, a 23-year-old who plays for Switzerland’s SC Weinfelden, dazzled as Germany held a 43-22 edge in shots on goal. German goalie Jennifer Harss made her fourth consecutive start."It's good for us that we got the first victory in the top division," said Lambert. "It's good to get back home with at least one victory with us."
It was a see-saw battle between the two neighbouring European nations who co-hosted the 2017 IIHF World Championship in Cologne and Paris.
Lara Escudero caught the Germans by surprise when she scored her second goal of the tournament just 22 seconds in. However, France’s momentum was hampered by taking four consecutive minors in the first period. Just after captain Marion Allemoz’s tripping penalty expired, Nicola Eisenschmid potted the 1-1 equalizer at 12:37.
Germany kept coming early in the second period as Kerstin Spielberger scored to make it 2-1, assisted by captain Julia Zorn.
But then the Germans fell into the same trap as the French, taking four consecutive minors in the frame. And France took just 19 seconds to capitalize with Germany’s Marie Delarbre off for slashing. Estelle Duvin netted the tying goal at 8:15.
The Germans couldn’t take advantage when France took the only two penalties of the third period. This result should be a good wake-up call before coach Christian Kunast's squad faces the perfect Czechs.
Spielberger summed it up: "The French girls were strong and had a good performance. We were not awake in the first period. The second period was tough. We took penalties and lost the rhythm. And the third period and the overtime was mainly bad luck. But heads up, and let's concentrate on the next game!"